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Jan 15, 2018
Comments Off on Fruit Trees

Fruit Trees

Why not grow a home orchard? What could be better than fruit picked fresh from the tree?

Many home gardeners have given up on fruit trees because they did not really get to enjoy the fruit – the local birdlife, possums, bats, vermin or insects got to it first! That can be a problem, but there are also some ways to outsmart the competition so that the feasting rights and benefits become yours.

While there are insecticides to provide an easy solution to the insect side of this problem, it is quite another thing to deter our native fauna. They are, after all, protected and we don’t want to remove them from our gardens, and we don’t even mind sharing some of the fruit with them… just not all of it. Generally, the problem is that while we wait for the fruit to ripen, the possums, bats and birds are happy to feast on the unripened fruit. If we pick the fruit too early, it will not ripen.

Tree nets are now available, which protect the fruit to a large degree, but they are expensive and if not erected correctly, may entangle animals and birds. An alternative to netting is shade cloth over the canopy of the tree, or using individual paper bags over accessible fruit.

Metal sheet Tree Collars are helpful where the issue is a possum or rat climbing up the trunk of the tree.

To keep birds away from ripening fruit, shiny objects hanging in the tree may serve as a deterrent. CDs, aluminium pie pans, strips of reflective tape, a scarecrow shape in the branches – these will all help keep the birds away. Remember to take down the obstacles after the fruit has ripened and is removed. The ecosystem in your garden needs birds to visit and help with cross pollination.

Another solution for the home gardener wanting to enjoy the fruit of their garden is to choose dwarf varieties when planting. These are easier to manage – whether it is spraying for insects or using netting or shade cloth to protect the fruit. These dwarf plants can also be kept in pots, and placed in a protected environment – away from the natural wildlife.

All fruit producing trees and vines should be carefully pruned after fruiting, and will benefit from regular fertilising. Attending to these will help produce a bigger crop for you to enjoy. Even if you have to share some of it with the wildlife!

Jan 15, 2018
Comments Off on Organic Soil

Organic Soil

There are many different types of soil throughout Australia, ranging from dry and sandy Tenosol which is largely infertile to rich dark Dermosol which retain adequate water and have good agricultural potential.  Soil may be too acidic, too alkaline, too saturated with minerals, too dry, too damp and too deficient of minerals to be any good for agriculture.  But each of these soils may be improved by breaking them up with organic matter.  With organic matter, found in varying quantities in all soils, comes a host of micro-organisms.  For this reason, it is an offence to take soil from one state to another in Australia.

So-called Organic Soil is simply soil which has been enhanced with organic matter in order to build up an ecosystem which is not reliant on chemicals for plant growth, weed control or as a pesticide.  As organic soil is being built over time, a positive relationship develops between micro-organisms in the soil, vegetation and insects.  An eco-system is established, allowing earthworms and other insects to thrive, which in turn provides nutrition to the plant life so that they grow hardy and resistant to diseases.  The long term benefit for vegetation grown in organic soil is considerable.

Organic soil building never ends and is infinitely sustainable.  It is a continuous cycle of adding compost to the soil, turning it and allowing it to be fallow.  Organic matter may easily be added to the soil where a composting system has been established in the garden.  Household kitchen and yard waste can easily be converted to nutritious fertiliser for the soil.  Composting with worms gives the added benefit of worm excrement to the mix.

If you are concerned about the worldwide conservation of our natural resources and the addition of chemicals to plants which you will eat, then you are probably already buying food products labelled organically grown.  Why not extend your concern to your own backyard?  Your garden, be it fruit bearing or not, will benefit from the establishment of an ecosystem devoid of chemicals.

When trees and bushes are pruned, mulch the off-cuts and use them to cover areas of the garden which are prone to weeds or become quickly dried out.  Set up a compost heap and a worm farm.  Read up on the plants in your garden, and find out how best to care for them naturally.  Having and maintaining an organic garden requires some education, initially, but it is well worth the effort.


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